Saturday, March 18, 2023

March 18 Radio History

➦In 1911...Lester Alvin Burnett was born (Died at age 55 from leukemia – February 16, 1967).  

Smiley Burnette
He better known as Smiley Burnette, was a country music performer and a comedic actor in Western films and on radio and TV, playing sidekick to Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and other B-movie cowboys. He was also a prolific singer-songwriter who could play as many as 100 musical instruments, some simultaneously. His career, beginning in 1934, spanned four decades, including a regular role on CBS-TV's Petticoat Junction in the 1960s.

He began singing as a child and learned to play a wide variety of instruments by ear, yet never learned to read or write music. In his teens, he worked in vaudeville, and starting in 1929, at the state's first commercial radio station, WDZ-AM in Tuscola, Illinois.

Burnette came by his nickname while creating a character for a WDZ children's program. He was reading Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" at the time, which included a character named Jim Smiley. He named the radio character Mr. Smiley and soon adopted the moniker as his own, dropping the title.

He made 80 western movies with Autry, then in TV became a regular on Ozark Jubilee, and played Charlie the railroad engineer on Petticoat Junction.

➦In 1912... Art Gilmore born in Tacoma, WA (Died at age 98 – September 25, 2010) .  He was an actor and announcer heard in on radio and television programs, children's records, movies, trailers, radio commercials, and documentary films. He also appeared in several television series and a few feature films.

Art Gilmore
Raised in Tacoma, Washington, Gilmore attended Washington State University in 1931, where he was a member of the Chi chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity and a member of the Alpha Omicron Chapter of Theta Chi fraternity. In 1935, he got hired to work as an announcer for Seattle's KOL Radio.  In 1936, he became a staff announcer for the Warner Brothers' radio station KFWB in Hollywood and then moved to the CBS-owned station KNX as a news reader.  During World War II, he served as a fighter-director U.S. Navy officer aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean.

Leaving the Navy, he decided to become a professional singer and returned to Hollywood. With a group of notable Hollywood radio stars, including Edgar Bergen, Ralph Edwards and Jim Jordan, Gilmore founded Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters in 1966.

Gilmore's announcing voice became a part of many classic radio programs. Drawing his inspiration from the radio sports commentators of the 1930s, he became the announcer for Amos 'n' Andy, The Adventures of Frank Race, Dr. Christian, Sears Radio Theater, Stars over Hollywood, The Golden Days of Radio and other radio shows. It was Gilmore who introduced Herbert W. Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong, reminding listeners to request free religious literature at the conclusion of "The World Tomorrow" on radio and television.

He narrated 156 episodes of syndicated TV’s Highway Patrol with Broderick Crawford, 39 segments of Mackenzie’s Raiders with Richard Carlson, and 41 episodes of Men of Annapolis

➦In 1922...WHN-AM, NYC signed-on at 833Kc

According to Faded Signals, WHN, New York City, signed on in 1922 as the radio station of The Ridgewood Times newspaper.  It was one of the city’s first radio stations, featuring a format of jazz and dance music of the era, as well as children’s shows, variety programs and newscasts.  The Loew’s Theater Organization bought the station in 1928.

The station played jazz and contemporary dance music, including Sophie Tucker, Fletcher Henderson, and Duke Ellington, as well as broadcasting Columbia University football games. In 1928 the station was bought by the Loew's Theatre Organization.

During the 1920s the station's frequency changed to 830, 760, and then 1010.

In the 1930s it broadcast the Major Bowes Amateur Hour, which was picked up by the CBS Radio Network.

WHN made its final frequency change to 1050 in 1941.

During the 1940s the programs Radio Newsreel and Newsreel Theater were prototypes for what would later become the all-news radio format. The station broadcast Brooklyn Dodgers games with Red Barber as well as the New York Giants and New York Rangers with Marty Glickman.

In 1948, WHN became WMGM, reflecting the Loew’s then-ownership of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio.  The station continued its diversified format until flipping to Top 40 and rock music in the mid 1950s. While it included some R&B, country and instrumentals in the Top 40 mix, WMGM carried a narrower, more up-tempo playlist.

By the early 1960s, WMGM 1050 AM had several competitors in the Top 40 radio market.  WINS, WABC and WMCA all were playing rock, and WMGM was falling behind in the ratings.

Storer Broadcasting bought the station in 1962, renaming it WHN and dropping the Top 40 in favor of slow-paced “beautiful music” and standards.

WHN also became New York City’s Mutual Radio Network affiliate.  Bob & Ray, WABC legend Herb Oscar Anderson and Jim Ameche were some of WHN’s on-air personalities.

The station picked up New York Mets baseball and launched Marv Albert’s sportscasting career.

WHN’s ratings were low and skewed toward older demographics.  After researching the market, Storer converted WHN to a country format in 1973.  Here’s an aircheck from WHN’s Bruce Bradley in 1973:

Mutual bought WHN in the late 1980s.  An FM competitor flipped to country from 1980 to 1984, hurting WHN’s ratings.

Doubleday Broadcasting bought WHN in 1985, and Emmis Communications bought it the following year. Emmis added sports talk in the evenings, keeping the country format during the day.

In 1987, Emmis announced WHN would become all-sports WFAN.  When Emmis purchased NBC’s New York radio stations in 1988, the company moved WFAN from 1050 AM to 660 AM, formerly occupied WNBC.

Spanish Broadcasting System purchased the 1050 AM license and became WUKQ, a Spanish Adult Contemporary station.  Spanish Broadcasting System wanted to swap 1050 AM with cash for the Jewish Daily Forward’s FM station, WEVD 97.9.  The deal was approved in 1989.

WEVD’s call letters and programming moved to the 1050 AM frequency.  The station mainly carried a brokered format of ethnic programs, talk shows and foreign-language programming.  By the mid-1990s, WEVD moved to a left-leaning news-talk format.

An agreement with ABC/Disney brought ESPN’s “The Dan Patrick Show” to WEVD in 2001.  A public campaign to save the old format failed.  On the final day of the news/talk format, soon-to-be-terminated staffers occasionally interrupted portions of the brokered programming with sometimes-profane audio clips. On September 2, 2001, WEVD became “1050 ESPN Radio.”

The call letters were changed to WEPN in 2003 after Disney bought the station, competing directly with WFAN’s all-sports format.  In 2012, WEPN’s programming moved to 98.7 FM.  ESPN Deportes later moved the 1050 AM frequency.

On June 11, 2019, ESPN announced that it would be discontinuing the ESPN Deportes Radio network on September 8, 2019. It was stated that WEPN would switch back to an English-language sports format at this time.  In September 2019, ESPN agreed to a two-year deal to carry at least 60 New York Islanders broadcasts; due to WEPN-FM's existing contracts with the Knicks and Rangers, most Islanders games are aired on 1050 AM, with select games on WEPN-FM, and previous flagship WRHU continuing to be the primary station for games not carried on either WEPN or WEPN-FM.

➦In 1939...saxophone player Frank Mane, who knew Frank Sinatra from Jersey City radio station WAAT where both performed on live broadcasts, arranged for him to audition and record "Our Love", his first solo studio recording.

➦In 1940...the daytime drama “Light of the World” began airing on the NBC Blue Network.  It aired for 10years and was unique in that it featured the Bible as the center of the story line.

➦In 1974...Jim Kerr started mornings on WPLJ 95.5 FM NYC

He began his career at age 14 in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  After working at stations in Howell and Ann Arbor Michigan, Kerr joined WORJ, a progressive rock station in Orlando, Florida. At 18, he returned to his hometown and joined the airstaff of WKNR, Detroit.  At 19, he served as morning host at WDAI, Chicago, at 20 he moved to the legendary WLS, and when he was 21, he became New York’s youngest morning show host at WPLJ.

Kerr has been the morning show host on six NYC stations, most notably 15 years at WPLJ and as of 2018, 15 years at WAXQ Q 104.3 FM.

➦In 1985... Capital Cities announced that it would purchase ABC Radio for $3.5 billion, which shocked the media industry, as ABC was some four times bigger than Capital Cities was at the time.

Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett helped to finance the deal in exchange for a 25 percent share in the combined company.  The deal was, at the time, the largest non-oil merger in world business history.  However, this record would be surpassed by year's end by the merger of General Electric and RCA (the latter company then being the parent company of rival network NBC).

NY Times story 3/20/85

The newly merged company, known as CapCities/ABC, was forced to sell off some stations due to FCC ownership rules. Between them, ABC and CapCities owned more television stations than FCC rules allowed at the time. Also, the two companies owned several radio stations in the same markets.

Of the former Capital Cities television stations, the new company opted to keep the outlets in Houston, Durham, and Fresno. WFTS and ABC's WXYZ-TV in Detroit were divested as a pair to the E.W. Scripps Company's broadcasting division (then known as Scripps-Howard Broadcasting).

WTNH and WKBW-TV were sold separately to minority-owned companies; WKBW-TV would eventually be acquired by E.W. Scripps by 2014. WTNH would have been sold in any event due to a significant city-grade signal overlap with ABC flagship WABC-TV in New York City. At the time, the FCC normally did not allow companies to own two television stations with common coverage areas (known commonly as the "one-to-a-market" rule), and would not even consider granting a waiver for a city-grade overlap.

Capital Cities/ABC originally planned to retain WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, but FCC rules could have forced a sale of that station as well due to a large signal overlap with WABC-TV. Citing CBS' ownership of television stations in New York City (WCBS-TV) and Philadelphia (at the time WCAU-TV) under grandfathered status, Capital Cities/ABC requested, and received a permanent waiver from the FCC allowing it to keep WPVI-TV. If the waiver request were denied, WXYZ-TV would have been retained.

On the radio side, new owners were found for CapCities' WPAT stations (Park Communications was the buyer), WKBW (Price Communications, the new owner, changed its call letters to WWKB, which was necessitated due to an FCC regulation in effect then that forbade TV and radio stations in the same city, but with different owners from sharing the same call letters) and KLAC and KZLA-FM (to Malrite Communications), and ABC's WRIF-FM in Detroit (to a minority-owned concern), among others.

The merger was completed on January 3, 1986.

The new company retained ABC's radio and television combinations in New York City (WABC, WABC-TV and WPLJ), Los Angeles (KABC, KABC-TV and KLOS), Chicago (WLS, WLS-FM and WLS-TV), and San Francisco (KGO and KGO-TV), along with WMAL and WRQX-FM in Washington, D.C.; CapCities' aforementioned television outlets and the Detroit, Providence, Marietta and Fort Worth radio stations; Fairchild Publications; the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Kansas City Star; and other broadcasting and publishing properties.

In May 1991, Capital Cities/ABC's Farm Progress Cos. closed its purchase of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc.'s 12-magazine farm publishing group. In February 1993, the company formed a TV production joint venture with Brillstein-Grey Entertainment to tap into their managed talent and to take advantage of relaxed production regulations. In July, CC/ABC purchased a majority ownership in animation studio DIC Animation City, forming a joint venture called DIC Entertainment L.P.   Later in July, CC/ABC reorganized into 4 groups, ABC TV Network Group, CC/ABC Publishing Group, the CC/ABC Broadcast Group, and a newly formed CC/ABC Multimedia Group overseeing the network, magazines & newspapers, stations and new technology & miscellaneous operations respectively. Network Group president Bob Iger was also promoted to executive president of CC/ABC.

CC/ABC in December 1994 agreed to a $200 million seven-year TV production joint venture with the new DreamWorks SKG studio.

Capital Cities/ABC merged with The Walt Disney Company on January 5, 1996.  A Disney subsidiary operating the combined company's television operations, ABC, Inc., was established on September 19, 1996.

➦In 1991...Former Radio/TV personality, Jack McCoy, died at age 72.

➦In 2005...Pat Cashman aired his final morning drive show on  KJR-FM, Seattle, after 12 years.

Following his graduation from the University of Portland (Oregon), he worked at various small radio stations in Oregon. But after moving to Eugene, Oregon, he left full-time radio work to take a job at a TV station as a commercial writer and director. For a period of time, he even served as the station’s weathercaster, though his humorous bits often took more time than the weather during this brief stint.

Pat Cashman
He moved on to another TV station in Boise, Idaho – this time serving as production director. While there, he originated a legendary Saturday late night TV show called “Peculiar Playhouse.”

Pat moved to Seattle in the early 1980’s, hired as a commercial writer and producer by KING TV. In 1984, he became the station’s first-ever creative director – writing, producing and directing a vast number of award-winning promos and commercials. He was honored with Clios, Addys and Tellys

In 1991, Pat returned to his radio roots on 1090 AM Seattle. He hosted his morning drive time news/comedy show until 1994, when KING Radio was purchased by Bonneville Broadcasting – and moved Pat to become the morning host on another station (then KIRO FM, later called “The Buzz”).

In 1999 Fisher Broadcasting – KOMO Radio hired Pat to immediate strong ratings. When KOMO switched to an all-news, no-Pat format, he left the building… and concentrated on his freelance work.

In the summer of 2003 Pat joined the legendary KJR FM 95.7 as host of the morning show from 6 to 10 AM.

Mike Rowe is 61

  • Composer John Kander (“Chicago”) is 96. 
  • Actor Brad Dourif (“Deadwood,” ″Lord of the Rings”) is 73. 
  • Jazz guitarist Bill Frisell is 72. 
  • Keyboardist Karen Grotberg of The Jayhawks is 64. 
  • Actor Geoffrey Owens (“The Cosby Show”) is 62. 
  • Actor Thomas Ian Griffith (“Cobra Kai,” “The Karate Kid Part 3”) is 61. 
  • TV personality Mike Rowe (“Dirty Jobs”) is 61. 
  • Singer-actor Vanessa Williams (“Desperate Housewives,” ″Ugly Betty”) is 60. 
  • Keyboardist Scott Saunders of Sons of the Desert is 59. 
  • Actor David Cubitt (“Medium”) is 58. 
  • Guitarist Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains is 57. 
  • Actor Michael Bergin (“Baywatch”) is 54. 
  • Rapper-actor Queen Latifah is 53. 
  • Comedian Dane Cook (“Employee of the Month”) is 51. 
  • Singer Philip Sweet of Little Big Town is 49. 
  • Singers Evan and Jaron Lowenstein of Evan and Jaron are 49. 
  • Actor Sutton Foster (“Younger,” “Bunheads”) is 48. 
  • Singer Adam Levine of Maroon 5 is 44. 
  • Drummer Daren Taylor of Airborne Toxic Event is 43. 
  • Actor Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project”) is 41. 
  • Actor Cornelius Smith Jr. (“Scandal”) is 41. 
  • Actor Duane Henry (“NCIS”) is 38. 
  • Actor Lily Collins is 34. 
  • Actor Julia Goldani Telles (“Bunheads”) is 28. 
  • Actor Ciara Bravo (“Big Time Rush”) is 26. 
  • Actor Blake Garrett Rosenthal (“Mom”) is 19.
  • In 2009..Natasha Richardson,  English actress (Gothic, Handmaid's Tale), dies of a traumatic brain injury at 45
  • In 2010..Fess Parker, Actor (Davy Crockett, Old Yeller), dies at 85
  • In 2017..Chuck Berry, American rock n' roll guitarist and singer-songwriter ("Roll Over Beethoven"; "Sweet Little Sixteen"), dies at 90

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